Differences in opinion within a marriage are bound to happen, and these opinions can range from personal time, housework, and child care. However, the most common subject that leads to marital strife is money. Conflict regarding money management in a relationship comes to no surprise. Most of us have not been taught the importance of money management by our parents or our schools, and when we leave the nest we have no choice but to learn as we go.
There are many reasons that can kill a relationship, but money is a prevalent one. It can have devastating consequences as we may blame our spouse for irresponsibility or argue about differences in spending habits. We may even want to break ties with our spouse because arguments over money can seem impossible to overcome. Fortunately, there is a way to see eye to eye with your partner and discuss money in a pragmatic way together to attain big goals as a unit, such as where you’ll live, the size and timing of your family, and more.
It’s still a taboo
Although our finances dictate almost every portion of our lives, we’ve never been told how to talk about money. In fact, many of us were taught not to talk about money at all. It’s no surprise that we tend to avoid the subject all together. In fact, 68% of individuals surveyed stated that talking about money caused more stress than discussing sex and intimacy. Only 44% of those polled said that they are comfortable discussing personal money issues with their spouses. This anxiety over discussing finances often leads to hiding purchase history and delaying “the talk” indefinitely.
In a relationship, we are in this together and must work together as a team to overcome any challenges life presents to us. When reframing the conversation as you would with a business partner, the discussion will be open, honest, and productive. You wouldn’t avoid addressing overspending and poor money management in a business, and money in your marriage should be viewed in a similar way.
Confrontation can be a very scary thing, but if you open yourself up to vulnerability and admit your flaws when it comes to budgeting such as impulse buying, or high debt utilization, it will bring you closer to your partner. That honesty will help you tackle those shortcomings together. You don’t have to do it alone.
Understanding each other
When openly discussing money management, creating a budget should be the first step. When you do that, you will not only learn of your partner’s spending habits but also of their needs and desires. What will be necessary to make you or your partner feel financially secure? What lifestyle do you hope to achieve in one year, five years, or even ten years? Do you enjoy recreational activities that cost money, versus your spouse that would be content in a park or at home? Are you conservative, middle of the road, or a spender?
Going over the budget every week will keep these lines of communication open and reduce the anxiety and tension associated with finances and bills. The subsequent compromise that results in an established budget and a savings plan will reduce conflict and foster a stronger relationship.
Achieve goals faster
After understanding your spouse’s spending habits and money personality when it comes to expenditures, you will then be able to clearly plan for the future. When making clear of the expectations for your budgeting and life goals, they will become easier to achieve. For example, a simple goal to strive for when purchasing a home is to save 20% for a down payment and then taking out a 15-year mortgage. Once you stick to your agreed upon budget, those big plans are within your reach.
A longed-for vacation, a house, a family, these are all obtainable goals that will bring you and your partner together. Furthermore, when you celebrate a goal achieved, it’s not just that milestone that is being lauded. Your marriage, your relationship, and your excellent teamwork are also celebrated.
A final thought
Approaching life’s hurdles as partners is a sure-fire way to rise above any challenge and make the bond between you stronger. Treat your personality differences as assets instead of obstacles. Their own philosophies and life experiences can bring fresh insight and knowledge to the discussion, a perspective you may not have considered before.
Solutions that benefit other couples but may not work for you are very common as well. Some find joint accounts useful in money management, while others may prefer maintaining individual accounts. Both are okay! Keep the lines of communication open about your funds, review a budget every week, and leave financial stress in the past where it belongs.
About the author:
Michelle studied English language and is now a self-employed freelancer. For her, writing is a creative expression method, and she mostly writes about relationships, self-development, and life itself. She also loves cheese, the smell of books, and to listen to blues. Her relaxation method? Speed walking by the lake.